With today's launch of Android Pay, the mobile payments ecosystem, just officially, got more crowded. Following Google's announcement in late May of Android Pay, rumors have been swirling about when the app would be officially launched. The rollout will take place over the next few days, while over the next few weeks, Google will be actively seeking feedback from consumers and merchants on the app's performance.

What is Android Pay?

Like with so many other products Apple has reimagined, many would believe the Cupertino-based giant invented the tap and pay wallet. Now, while it’s true that they have done a tremendous job creating an integrated payments experience with the launch of Apple Pay, it was their Mountain View-based rival, Google, who developed the first tap and pay wallet in 2011. Back then however, competing aspirations from mobile carriers delayed merchant adoption and handset maker support. Now with Android Pay, Google attempts to re-capture some of its mobile wallet thunder that Apple stole last September and regain thought leadership in the space.

What separates Android Pay from its predecessor Google Wallet is that no longer do you need to open an app and enter a pin in order to make a payment - you just tap and go. It will even take the extra step of prompting the use of a loyalty card or gift card if available. Android Pay will also support in-app purchases (launched later in 2015) so now the “Pay with Android” button can be used instead of entering credit card details each and every time. Learning from past challenges, Google is now collaborating with mobile carriers on a single standard that allows for faster deployment of Android Pay and, by allowing for branded credit cards and network-based tokenization, made it a lot friendlier to the issuing banks and card networks.

The list of partners lined up to support Android Pay reads as a who's who of retailers and banks. They include McDonald's, Toys R Us, Whole Foods, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo and much more.

Unlike Apple Pay which only works on the newest generation of iPhones, given Android Pay’s backward compatibility with the past two Android versions, Android Pay will work on the 200M+ existing Android-based NFC phones. This will allow for faster adoption both domestically and, more importantly, internationally where Apple has yet to launch and the Google NFC footprint is strong.

What’s next?

Android Pay is the latest addition to the ever-changing payment landscape. With more innovation on the horizon, here at Poynt, we want to ensure that payments do not impact the shopping experience for either the merchant or their consumer. That’s why the Poynt Smart Terminal was built to be future proof. It’s backward compatible to cash, so no matter whether a customer wants to pay with Android Pay, Apple Pay or any other other kind of pay out there, with the Poynt Smart Terminal the merchant will be able to accept it – no add-on necessary.